In the lead up to Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, the US officials have said they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in the event.
Following the violent insurrection carried out at the US Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6, 25,000 National Guard troops have been deployed to Washington DC for Biden’s inauguration.
Due to fears of an insider attack, the FBI is now vetting those troops, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking to the Associated Press on Sunday (local time), Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said officials were aware of the threat and that he had warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks ahead of the inauguration.
McCarthy and other leaders said they have not seen any evidence of any threats and to their knowledge, the vetting process is yet to flag any issues.
”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said, according to the Associated Press.
A statement issued by the US Army and obtained by Fox News said the army is working with the Secret Service to determine if any troops require additional background screening.
The statement also said service members are familiar with the ‘Threat Awareness and Reporting Program’, meaning personnel are required to report any information regarding “known or extremist behaviour” which may be a threat to the department of the US.
Armed individuals ‘major security concern’
The number of troops being deployed to the Capitol is unprecedented - The Associated Press reported more than two and a half times more troops will be there for Biden’s inauguration compared to past inaugurals.
The first of the troops were deployed to Washington DC more than a week ago.
While the military routinely screens personnel for extremist connections, the FBI screening is in addition to any previous monitoring.
The Secret Service is in charge of the security for Wednesday’s inauguration, though there is a variety of law enforcement agencies involved, including the National Guard, the FBI and Washington’s Metropolitan Police.
The major security concern for the day is an attack by armed groups of individuals, in addition to planted explosives and other devices.
Intelligence reports suggest groups are organising armed rallies in the lead up to the inauguration and potentially after that, McCarthy said.
The bulk of the Guard members will be armed. And McCarthy said units are going through repeated drills to practice when and how to use force and how to work quickly with law enforcement partners.
He said Guard units are going through “constant mental repetitions of looking at the map and talking through scenarios with leaders so they understand their task and purpose, they know their routes, they know where they’re friendly, adjacent units are, they have the appropriate frequencies to communicate with their law enforcement partners.”
The key goal, he said, is for America’s transfer of power to happen without incident.
“This is a national priority. We have to be successful as an institution,” said McCarthy.
“We want to send the message to everyone in the United States and for the rest of the world that we can do this safely and peacefully.”
Military were at the Capitol riot, Army Secretary says
The increased concern surrounding security at the inauguration comes after the insurrection at the Capitol which was ignited by Donald Trump’s remarks at a rally and the months following the election where he claimed the election was “stolen” from him.
Trump’s baseless claims have been refuted by several courts, the Justice Department and Republicans in key battleground states.
McCarthy said service members from across the military took part in the rally prior to Trump supporters storming the Capitol.
However, he admitted it is not yet clear just how many were there or who may have participated in the breach of the Capitol.
Only a few current active-duty or National Guard members have been arrested in connection to the insurrection.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, insider threats have been a priority for law enforcement.
Usually the threats are from homegrown insurgents, radicalised by groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
However the potential threat against Biden’s inauguration has been fuelled by Trump’s supporters, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups.
Trump will be breaking tradition and will not be in Washington DC for Biden’s inauguration. Instead, he is expected to pack up and head for Florida on Wednesday.
- with AP
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